Three Down Look: Zac Taylor Notches Elusive Road Win Against Texans

The Bengals beat the Texans 37-31 on Sunday
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The long nightmare is over for Zac Taylor.

The Cincinnati Bengals' 20-game streak without a road win ended on Sunday. They beat the Texans 37-31 in Houston

Sam Hubbard answered prayers from fans everywhere with his game-sealing strip of Deshaun Watson with less than two minutes remaining. The Bengals have now won consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 4-5 in 2018. 

Here's a three-down look from Cincinnati's highest-scoring output of 2020.

First Down: Brandon Allen Rides The Lightning

If it looked like the ball was steaming a bit coming off the hand of Brandon Allen, you might not have been seeing things. Allen passed for a career-high 371 yards and two touchdowns.

Taylor and Allen took advantage of a bottom-five defense the way any good offensive tandem would. The second-year coach got his quarterback in a rhythm early with multiple screen passes on the Bengals' opening drive. Gio Bernard and Samaje Perine were critical out of the backfield, combining for 11 catches and 107 yards.

The backup settled in with short throws early on, then unleashed the cannon. 

Allen's 10 yards per attempt were a season-high for any Bengals quarterback, and he used the deep ball as a weapon. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Allen finished 5-of-8 for 147 yards and one touchdown on throws 20-plus yards downfield.

Allen went to his best options on the outside all game long. A.J. Green and Tee Higgins drew a combined 16 targets for 10 catches, 163 yards and one touchdown.

Jim Turner's unit did their part to give Allen time to throw down field. Cincinnati didn't give up a sack for the second time this season. That's just the fifth time since 2016 that the Bengals haven't allowed a sack. Their record is 4-1 in those games.

Allen went from quarantine quarterback to outdueling Deshaun Watson on the road. A fitting way to end the last weekend of the 2020 Bengals.

Second Down: Rushing Tandem Goes Wild

Samaje Perine exploded at the beginning of the second half for a play Bengals fans hadn't felt in over four years.

The 46-yard punisher was the Bengals' longest rushing touchdown since 2016. Perine grew up in Texas, making Sunday the best kind of homecoming as he led the team in rushing with 13 carries for 95 yards.

Bernard complimented Perine's thunder with his lightning: finishing with 131 yards from scrimmage. The duo had a field day rushing behind left tackle Fred Johnson. Perine and Bernard ran off left tackle 14 times for 100 yards and one touchdown while amassing 15 carries for 60 yards and a score everywhere else.

The Bengals leaned on the run, and it rewarded them for a second-straight week.

Third Down: Defense Fails Another Test

Top-tier opposing quarterback? Insert another disastrous performance from Lou Anarumo's defense. Watson was his typical self at home, passing for 324 yards and three scores on 9.8 yards-per-attempt. Most of which went to his only viable wide receiver in Brandin Cooks, who finished with seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.

Anarumo's defenses have played fine against average quarterbacks, but the best have been enjoying field days all year. The Bengals have played four of the 10 most-efficient quarterbacks this season. They're allowing 33.5 points per game in those contests. Whether it was Philip Rivers or Watson, Cincinnati has never found the solvent for great quarterbacks.

The aerial attack wasn't all that killed Cincinnati. They also turned the clock back on David Johnson's career. The Texans running back ran for 128 yards on just 12 carries. The rushing total was Johnson's best mark since Nov. 2018. 

He averaged 10.7 yards-per-carry. It was his most efficient YPC output since he entered the league. Johnson hit interior holes with a vengeance, using his momentum to break tackles all afternoon.

The Bengals's defense has plenty to fix before their Week 17 matchup against Lamar Jackson, but for right now, they can enjoy their first victory flight home under Taylor.

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